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2021-11-22 06:58:38   •   ID: 2281

A Faustkeilblatt from S/W Germany - a Marginal Topic?

Figure 1
The concept of a Central and East European "Micoquian" has been repeatedly described in this Blog. The alternative term "Keilmesser-groups" is problematic because several Micoquian inventories do not include these tools at all- see here: 2016 , here 1726 , and here 1609 .

The Micoquian entity of Central and East Europe is characterized by a combination of bifacially retouched tools with mostly plano-convex working edges, including Keilmesser (wedge knifes) with single and angled working edges, "Halbkeile": elongated unifaces with a D-shaped cross-section , Fäustel: small (< 6cm long) Handaxes, "Leaf-shaped Scrapers" and last but not least by flat Handaxes: Faustkeilblätter (FKBs), which are the issue of this post, because it has appeared that reviews that focus on this tool do not exist actually.

By the way: Handaxes, including the well-known "Micoquian Handaxes" with an asymmetric and trifacial concept but also classic, mostly elongated and cordiform Bifaces, are rather rare and not a decisive characteristic of the Micoquian.

Figure 1 and 2 show the dorsal side of a Faustkeilblatt from the Franconian Jura- see: 1609 and Figure 3 displays the ventral side of the 6,6 cm long artifact.

FKBs of the Central and Eastern European Micoquian are small tools (between 6 to 7 cm long), characterized by their relatively thin and plan, occasionally minimally convex cross-section over the entire length of the tool. Most important remains their uniform flat profile (Tafelmaier 2011 ).

The dorsal, side is covered by retouches while the retouching on the ventral side are often variable, covered with more incomplete and less invasive retouches..

Figure 2
Distally, on the dorsal side, they often have a carefully worked tip, which may occasionally more or less rounded as seen in our example. A tipped variant can be seen here: 1735 . The distal region on the ventral side is not or only coarsely retouched.

The proximal end is usually blunt and unprocessed, sometimes produced by an intentional break, which also can be recognized in our example. Intentional breaking is a principle that has been widely used since the Mousterian and MSA- see here: 1734 .

The shapes vary between large and elongated, broad and short, like the artifact of this post, as well as narrow handaxe like artifacts. Triangular shaped examples with oblique base ("Type X") shapes also occur. While elongated specimens are often symmetric, broad and wide forms more often show a certain asymmetry.

At some sites in Central Europe, for example at the Bocksteinschmiede, (Baden Würtenberg, Germany) this artifact is very common, and supposed to be the desired end product, so that a separate name in typological systematics was early required.

In fact, Late Pleistocene FKBs are taxonomically similar to Pointes a Quinson for certain Middle Pleistocene Old World lithic inventories-see: 1554

The name "Faustkeilblatt" was coined first by Obermaier 1912. Otto Meghin occasionally called this type of implement a "plate Handaxe" (Meghin 1914). In the French and Anglo - American literature, these artifacts are were recognised not before the 1990ies, when the Middle Paleolithic of Central and East Europe became better known in the Western Hemisphere. Currently the detailed Definition of G.Bosinski (1967) ist usually used.

At first, it was assumed that the overall design of these artifacts was dictated by tabular source material. In the Franconian and Swabian Alb, formerly also known as the Swabian Jura, during the Middle Paleolithic, namely, the Plattenhornstein (tabular Flint), played a major role in the production of tools until the Bronze Age (Zotz 1951).

Figure 3
Here Plattenhornstein is found In limestone deposits, which were formed during the Jurassic and occur as siliceous horizons of only a few centimeters thickness.

Anyhow, this possibility was subsequently falsified, since FKBs and other "Micoquian" tools (e.g Blattspitzen) were frequently produced from other raw materials.

Moreover, and not uncommon in typological classifications, there is a wide transitional field between broad and wide FKBs and convergent Scrapers and Keilmessern.

The same holds true between elongated examples and Leafpoints and Limaces.

The most instructive illustrations, of the enormous variance of the pieces designated as FKBs, can be seen in the monograph by G. Bosinski and R. Wetzel on the Bocksteinschmiede site in particular on the pages following plate 60.

As often in prehistoric research, the terminology changes from country to country: At the Polish site Pietraszyn there are FKBs, but the Polish researchers call them "scraper" without further differentiation.

The same perception had already been expressed 60 years ago by F. Bordes (1961) - However such artifacts are rare in S/W-France-the classic region for Mousterian terminology.

However, this does not apply to Normandy and neighboring regions. FKBs at the surface site Saint-Brice-sous-Rânes (Orne department; France) represent up to 10% of all bifacial tools, but are designated differently by French researchers as result of different terminologies.

My observation of a small, biased example of ca 200 tools fits to the systematic evaluation of Karen Ruebens, that: a third entity, the Mousterian with bifacial tools (MBT), is located in between the MTA and KMG core areas and contains a wide variety of bifacial tools, including MTA and KMG types.

Figure 4
In Figure 4 we find two tools fromSaint-Brice-sous-Rânes, that meet all the preconditions for the Central European designation as FKBs.

A systematic evaluation over the entire life cycle of FKBs in the context of a Chaîne opératoire approach is still missing.

In eastern Central Europe FKB are often part of "Micoquian Ensembles" underpinning that they are an important part of this entity. They also occure in the Eastern European Plain and in some inventories of the Crimean Peninsula (.g. Kabazi and Staroselje; again under a different name). (Marks and V.P. Chabaï 1998, Marks and Monigal 1999).

However, the piece shown here, could theoretically show the negatives of Levallois preperation on the dorsal side, with an intentional breakage of the base and a rather careless retouching of the ventral side.

The first example in Figure 4, on the other hand, was prepared from a large Pseudolevallois point that was originally struck from a Discoid core. The same technique is also conceivable for the second, more symmetrical specimen.

It remains unclear for most pieces whether they were shafted and what function they served. At the Polish MIS3 site Pietraszyn 49a, use–wear traces from bifacial tools resulted mainly from bone and rarely from processing organic material (Wiśniewski et al 2019). At the Lichtenberg site microtraceology revealed cutting meat or hide, probably during butchering activities (Claud et al. 2009)

Suggested Reading:

J. Bárta: Slovensko v staršej a strednej dobe kamennej; 1996

G. Bosinski: mittelpaläolithischen Funde im westlichen Mitteleuropa, 1967

G. Bosinski und R Wetzel: Die Bocksteinschmiede im Lonetal; 1969

G.Freund: Die Blattspitzen des Paläolithikums in Europa ; 1952

G. Freund. Das Paläolithikum der Oberneder-Höhle - Ldkr. Kelheim-Donau; 1987

K. Günther: Die altsteinzeitlichen Funde der Balver Höhle; 1964

K. Günther: Alt- und mittelsteinzeitliche Fundplätze in Westfalen, Teil 1 + Teil 2; 1986, 1988

J. and S. Kozlowski, Le Paléolithique en Pologne, 1996S. Krukowski: Prehistoria ziem Polskich I. Kraków; 1939.

Richter J: Sesselfelsgrotte III. Der G-Schichten-Komplex der Sesselfelsgrotte; 1997

S. Veil: Ein mittelpaläolithischer Fundplatz aus der Weichselkaltzeit bei Lichtenberg, Lkr. Lüchow-Danneberg.;1994